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Jung Journal: culture & psyche , F all 2007, V ol . 1, N o .

4, 9-10

Two Poems by Jane Hirshfield

Flowering Vetch
Each of the tragedies can be read
as the tale of a single ripening self,
every character part of one soul.
The comedies can be included in this as well.
Often the flaw is a flaw of self-knowledge;
sometimes greed. For this reason
the comic glint of a school of herring leads to no plot line,
we cannot imagine a tragedy of donkeys or bees.
Before the ordinary realities, ordinary failures:
hunger, coldness, anger, longing, heat.
Yet one day, a thought as small as a vetch flower opens.
After, no longer minding the minor and almost wordless role,
playing the messenger given the letter
everyone knows will arrive too late or not at all.
To have stopped by the fig and eaten was not an error, then,
but the reason for going.
From Jane Hirshfield. 2006. After. San Francisco: HarperCollins,.
(Reprinted by permission of Jane Hirshfield.

Poet Jane Hirshfields work has been described as


passionate and radiant (The New York Times Book Review)
ethically aware (The Academy of American Poets) and
holding a stunning physicality and the seductively rich
music that such physicality engenders (Kathleen Norris).
Her many honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim
and Rockefeller Foundations, the National Endowment for
the Arts, and the Academy of American Poets. Her work has
appeared in The New Yorker and The Atlantic. She is the author
of six books of poetry, most recently After (HarperCollins,
2006), as well as a collection of essays, Nine Gates: Entering
the Mind of Poetry.

Each Moment a White Bull Steps


Shining into the World
If the gods bring to you
a strange and frightening creature,
accept the gift
as if it were one you had chosen.
Say the accustomed prayers,
oil the hooves well,
caress the small ears with praise.
Have the new halter of woven silver
embedded with jewels.
Spare no expense, pay what is asked,
when a gift arrives from the sea.
Treat it as you yourself
would be treated,
brought speechless and naked
into the court of a king.
And when the request finally comes,
do not hesitate even an instant-Stroke the white throat,
the heavy, trembling dewlaps
youd come to believe were yours,
and plunge in the knife.
Not once
did you enter the pasture
without pause,
without yourself trembling.
That you came to love it, that was the gift.
Let the envious gods take back what they can.
From Jane Hirshfield. 1997. The Lives of the Heart.
San Francisco: HarperCollins
(Reprinted by permission of Jane Hirshfield.

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

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